Developers October 21, 2020

I'm interviewing my first developer, and am looking for feedback on the meeting agenda that I wrote.

Walter Stabosz @waltbosz

I've decided to hire my first developer, and I've already got one interview set up.

I sent the candidate the following agenda for the interview, and I was wondering if any developers would like to give me notes.

In particular:

  1. How would you feel about having a job interview with this sort of agenda?
  2. Are there any agenda items that I have missed? (I intentionally left compensation off the agenda for the first interview)

My background and motivation

I'm a software engineer/architect/developer with 20 years experience (31 years if you count my childhood), and like many of you, I've been disappointed by the tech-hiring process. So I've designed this interview to help me understand the candidate's motivation for wanting to be a developer, rather than just learning that he can hold a conversation and which tech skills he has.

I want to hire a developer who is in the profession for the love of the code, and not because he once heard that there are good jobs in IT. That's not to imply that I can't pay market rates, I just want to find someone whose motives match mine, someone who shares my raison d'être.

Are you looking for a new gig?

Also, if anyone wants to work with/for me, this role is for a .NET full stack developer. The job is a mix of refactoring old code and writing new code. I'll deal with the clients, you'll deal with the code.

The job will be a 1099 contract. I estimate there is about a years worth of full time work to be done.

Keywords in order of relevance: C#, SQL Server, EF, VB .NET (old code), WinForms, WPF, jQuery, Angular, Svelte. (There are no WebForms)

Final Question

Where can I find resources for learning about how to have an employee?
Questions I need to answer for myself:

  • how do taxes work?
  • how do I determine if it it legal for me to hire a given candidate?
  • what other questions do I need to answer?

Apolgies if this post is off-topic for this group. I'm sort of new to IH.

  1. 2

    I think that's a pretty decent agenda. I have a couple of thoughts to share.

    You might as well be up front with compensation. It would be a waste of time for you and the developer of they want $150/hr and you're paying $75/hr for example.

    Since this is a 1099 gig I would actually worry less about an interview at all. As you mentioned tech hiring is messed up. You have the advantage of hiring someone for a short project (a couple days or a week, whatever works best) and then decide if you want to continue working with them. You'll learn so much more than any interview will tell you. I've hired a bunch of people trying different interview techniques and they all pretty much come down to luck. My best hires were people I had already worked with.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the tips. I hadn't thought about hiring someone for a small project first to see how well they perform.

  2. 2

    Developer here, specifically .net (10+ years).

    The moment you mention win forms/wpf, I would pass on this opportunity unless you are planning on offering a lot of $$$ and this needs to be stated up front. Don't try to hide it, because if I got conned into a win forms role, I'd quit immediately.

    The reason being is that there's way too many opportunities for talented developers to spend their time with than going through 15 layers of abstractions.

    1. 1

      Ha. Your assumption is right, the VB.NET code I work with is crap.

      Maybe I need to change my expectations of who I can hire for this job. I'm not going to find who is hungry for interesting work if this is what I have to feed them.

  3. 2

    Hey @waltbosz!

    This is a great topic and I love talking about/reading/ telling my experiences in this area.

    Background: Been a software engineer for 2 years. Have interviewed a a breadth of different companies, local, FAANG, startups, etc. Also have interviewed a lot of folks at my day job.

    I think the outline is great. Not sure how long this interview process is slated to take but there might not be enough time to answer all the questions.

    Typically my favorite phone screen / initial interview process follows a similar pattern to what you've laid out.

    1. The interviewer introduces themselves, talks about the company, the mission, etc. This is your chance as the interviewer to start off the call with a great impression. (Side note: Most candidates are probably applying to tons of jobs. They might not even really remember what your company does. That doesn't imply they aren't interested and excited about the company though. Getting hired is a numbers game for most. )
    2. The interviewee tells about their story. Typically this is in response to a question like "Tell me how you got into tech, where you are today, what you're looking for in your next role?"
    3. More in depth technical questions. Like the ones you laid out about .NET, winforms, etc.

    If it's a 1099 role, this implies that the contracted worker will be responsible for the taxes. Less paperwork and setup than hiring a full-time worker for sure. Definitely makes sense to spend some time here with an accountant.

    Also, we have some fantastic .NET developers at the boutique software consulting firm I work at. It's a small firm ~30 people total. If you'd be interested in talking to one of our .NET guys I could set a meeting up. Feel free to email me [email protected]

  4. 1

    First and foremost, they need to demonstrate that they can write code. Have them solve a simple problem, even if it's in Google Docs.

    Secondly, I do like asking candidates about past projects. It allows candidates to showcase their best work. That said, it is crucial to ask them directly what their role was on the project. If their role wasn't a central one, find a project in which they did have a central role and were on the critical path.

    Finally, I would echo @djdj's comment. They would need to know which technologies they'd be working with.

    Best of luck!

    1. 2

      Good tip about asking was their role was on the project. It reminds me of a group project from college for my parallel programming class. I came up with the design, and my two team members did the coding.

      We ended up winning the class competition (the prize was a tee shirt). I still have the tee and it's in great shape, mainly because I rarely wear long sleeves.

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